From an immensely talented new voice in international fiction, this “fascinating, ambitious” (The New York Times Book Review) and epic novel seamlessly interweaves five love stories that, together, chronicle sixty years of Bangladeshi history—for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.
Shahryar, a recent PhD graduate and father of nine-year-old Anna, must leave the United States when his visa expires. In their last remaining weeks together, we learn Shahryar’s history, in a village on the Bay of Bengal, where a poor fisherman and his wife are preparing to face a storm of historic proportions. That story intersects with those of a Japanese pilot, a British doctor stationed in Burma during World War II, and a privileged couple in Calcutta who leaves everything behind to move to East Pakistan following the Partition of India. Inspired by the 1970 Bhola cyclone, in which half a million-people perished overnight, the structure of this riveting novel mimics the storm itself. Building to a series of revelatory and moving climaxes, it shows the many ways in which families love, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another.
At once grounded in history and fantastically imaginative, The Storm “moves us deftly through time and across borders, beautifully illustrating the strange intersections we call fate, and reminding us how the past shapes the present” (Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty). Exploring the humanity that connects us beyond the surface differences of race, religion, and nationality, “this powerful and important debut is a story for our time” (Library Journal, starred review).
Anwar's excellent debut braids together brief moments of sacrifice and love in the lives of many characters across decades in South Asia and Washington D.C. The novel opens in November 1970 Chittagong, East Pakistan, as mother and wife Honufa awakes to find her husband gone to work and a massive storm coming: "Iron-gray clouds are moving toward the shore on legs of lightning." After sending her son off to safety with her friend, Rina, Honufa's next choices may determine whether she will ever be reunited with her husband and son. In August 2004 D.C., Shahryar Choudhury must find work within three months or his visa will expire and he will be forced to return to Bangladesh, unsure whether he'll ever see his daughter again. Chapters alternate between Shahryar's dilemma and that facing what a first seem to be random characters in East Pakistan (which will become Bangladesh), India, and Burma. Anwar expertly threads together these vignettes with others about the lives of an English doctor, a Japanese pilot, a Muslim couple caught in a ransom plot, and residents of Chittagong. This first novel will touch and astound readers.